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SWT’s leader outlines plans

American-Statesman (08/28/2002)

By Jeremy Schwartz

New president says she will be open, inclusive as she governs university

SAN MARCOS — Southwest Texas State University President Denise Trauth, who this month replaced Jerome Supple to become the school’s ninth president, on Tuesday promised an open administration.

In the school’s 100th State of the University speech, her first public address to faculty and staff members eager to catch a glimpse of her leadership style, Trauth said she wants each segment of the campus to help plan for the future.

“I am absolutely committed to an open administration,” she said. “There will be no secrets; there will be no sleight of hand. I have great respect for shared governance, for broad and inclusive consultation, and for diversity of opinion.”

Echoing comments she made when she was hired in June, Trauth hesitated to spell out her vision of the school’s future.

“I could stand here and tell you what I think this university should become,” she said. “That would be wrong. Together, we need to craft a vision that is shared across the many sectors of SWT.”

The Texas State University System Board of Regents selected Trauth over two other finalists, citing her fund-raising expertise and the strong relationship between the campus and community that she cultivated while she was provost of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Trauth was a popular administrator in Charlotte, and her leaving was mourned in a laudatory editorial in the Charlotte Observer.

During her address Tuesday, Trauth emphasized that producing graduates should be the school’s top priority.

The university’s other endeavors, including research and public service, should be subsumed under that goal, she said.

“My term for the education that we are giving our students is a ‘research-infused’ education,” she said. “Therefore, we cannot talk about teaching without talking about research. And we shouldn ’t talk about research without discussing its impact on learning.”

Research became a hallmark of Southwest Texas State during Supple’s 13-year tenure, when the university was largely transformed from a provincial teaching school to a nationally respected academic institution.

Trauth talked about continuing the advances made under Supple, saying she’s humbled to follow him.

“If I had the choice of following a president who left the institution in excellent shape or one who left it in a state of disrepair, it’s an easy choice for me,” she said. “At the same time, I feel good about the skills that I bring to this position and to the needs of Southwest Texas; it’s a good fit.”

Trauth’s speech struck a chord with some faculty and staff members.

Susan Day, chairwoman of the sociology department, said she liked Trauth’s vision of the entire campus working collectively. “I thought she was inspirational,” she said. “I thought she was very logical and laid things out clearly.”

Trauth also announced the beginning of several new construction projects on the campus in the coming months, including a renovation of the Alkek Library’s first floor, an expansion of Strahan Coliseum, a new student health center and renovations at Aquarena Center.

San Marcos community members will get a chance to meet Trauth from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Sept. 4 at the San Marcos Activity Center. SWT’s leader outlines plans